Although I am tempted to wax rhetorical on this memorial day, the faces and persons of people I remember demand more respect than that.
In the last 10 years two cousins and my best friend (and brother-in-law’s brother) have all died. While only one died in active duty with the American armed forces, I remember them all today.
Because they all leave holes in my life and, besides one, they all died too young and too tragically. In other words, I cannot remember one without remembering them all.
The most recent painful death, my cousin TJ succumbed to the powers of drugs and alcohol as he was dealing with the guilt and depression caused by his brother Adam’s death years before. TJ and Adam rarely ever went anywhere without the other, and that included the military. But, in the armed forces, Adam left TJ behind: Adam went to Afghanistan while TJ was selected for another unit.
TJ never forgave himself for not being there with Adam at the end. I do, and I am glad that we had the last few months together before I moved out east. TJ called me asking for help, and I gave what help I could, knowing that the battle would be very difficult for TJ. He tried, and his soul joins the man in the arena who fails valiantly, never joining the ranks of those who know neither victory nor defeat.
Ben took his life by hanging in an attempt to provide for his family and relieve the pain that came after several back surgeries were made null and void when he was beaten by police so that he could not walk. Ben was my best friend growing up and his brother is now my brother in law. He was a victim of the drug war and his own choices, but I cannot remember him without the painful realization that I was not there for him in his last years.
I wish I was, but I only saw him once or twice a year for quite a few years as we got older. Whether from the War on Drugs, or the War on Terror, he is still dead and I remember him.
The first of this long decade, my cousin Adam died in July of 2007 in the Sarobi District of Afghanistan. Adam joined the military for many reasons: service of country and a desire to get an education and become an English teacher were two of them. He never came home.
I cannot write enough about any of these people, and their memories are mine, but I wanted to share some of them with you as we all remember.
Their Lives Matter, and I miss them.
I thought I would end this post with a touching video remembering the vets from our grandparent’s war: